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Comment Not sure I agree (Score 1) 49

I bought a Arris telephony modem on Amazon that I then provisioned my account with. It took longer than it should have, i.e. multiple phone calls, a visit from Comcast (to replace a shot overhead line), etc. but it can be done, and as far as I am concerned, it should be done.

Sure, there are folks for whom renting makes more sense than owning. But for anyone who is looking to stay in a particular domicile for a couple of years, owning makes a lot of sense. Particularly, if you happen to live in a town that only has one high-speed ISP, i.e. where you have little to no opportunity to switch among providers.

Comment Re:Don't install Comcast equipment... (Score 1) 49

Basically, I want a firewall that is completely closed by default, whose holes (if any) are explicitly opened by the end user. That cannot be guaranteed with Comcast-supplied equipment.

Given that Comcast can 're-provision' the cable modem at will means that my settings may get wiped at their pleasure. I am happy to given them that freedom (i.e. control the equipment that interfaces with their network) as long as I get to control what enters my network. So that's why I like a separate device to run my firewall than ISP-supplied gear.

Also, Comcast is not necessarily the source of the problem. For example, consider that Comcast packages that include phone service require an eMTA telephony modem (i.e. one that allows a telephone to be attached to the modem). Arris modems appear to be the only kind that allow this on the US market and thanks to innumerable back-doors Arris' modems have been pwned in more ways than should be possible. Given that Arris has shown apparent zero interest in patching these issues, I would consider any Arris-made modem to be a potential malware/etc/ cesspool.

I have a lot more trust in equipment like my Edgerouter (see online tutorials re: preferred settings or use the HTTP Wizard) than relying on Comcast to have the 'right' firewall settings on their router. And if you put in the time to learn the specifics of your firewall/network equipment, there is a huge benefit, such as being able to segment the network between guest and home users (to keep your server separate), prevent visiting friends from abusing your network connection (i.e. data caps), and so on.

Even relatively inexpensive (and easy to set up) consumer grade gear like the Airport Extreme can offer these features. While the Edgerouter I currently use has a *very* steep learning curve for an inexperienced network admin, there are other solutions out there that are equally effective. Plus, you can retrofit a large number of older routers with DD-WRT and like firmware replacements to add features, etc.

Comment Don't install Comcast equipment... (Score 3, Informative) 49

... problem solved. The only reason this attack vector exists in the first place is that people are too lazy to install their own equipment. Instead, they rent a Comcast Wifi router at an exorbitant cost and questionable security. To me, relying on a firewall that was developed by Comcast is like making love with a leaky condom. It might work some of the time, but not for the right reasons.

The solution is simple: If you have to use Comcast, then buy your own cable modem. They can still install it (if you lack the technical skills). Then, put a real firewall between the modem and your network. Whether you buy an integrated router (i.e. with Wifi) or separate components, is totally up to you.

I happen to be very happy with my Edgerouter but past installations with Apple Airports worked well also. Bottom line: Save money and eliminate the potential security risks with renting Comcast equipment by buying your own gear.

Comment Encryption? Air-gapping? Pah! That's for pansies! (Score 1) 173

The folk at OPM should have been well aware that someone, somewhere would really like to get their hands on that information. The lack of protection mentioned in the news around OPM records is simply hilarious.

You'd think that the sort of data that OPM stores would be kept on air-gapped machines in a prepper's-fantasy facility without cell phones, under a mountain, etc... but no, that would be too logical. Instead, they may as well have stored the stuff on a public library computer.

Whoever hacked OPM is not only laughing themselves silly at all the stuff that is in those files, they also have job security for next 20 years to sift through 14 million records. Well done, OPM!

Unfortunately, the next likely step by the government will be to augment OPM's budget 500%, just as with all the other agencies that failed the US population repeatedly. We only have ourselves to blame, we voted them into those positions in the first place.

Comment "This isn't a permanent feature" (Score 4, Interesting) 367

The article mentions that this 'feature' will be turned off once Windows 10 reaches broad distribution. Makes perfect sense actually

First you prove that the back door you've installed in the OS operates as expected. Then you sell key logger access to your user base on a case-by-case basis to the FBI, CIA, NSA or any other agency that is shaking big wads of cash in front of your nose while holding a 'keep it all secret' and 'get out of jail free' card for good measure (see various sections of the patriot act and other anti-terrorism, save-the-children, etc. legislation that have been aggressively 'interpreted').

Thus, encryption and other defensive measures are easily rendered useless as no AV system will detect a key logger 'feature' that is part of the operating system.

More profit for MS, less security for it's users. Brilliant.

Comment E15 may be an issue... and not just for cars (Score 5, Insightful) 375

The percentage of ethanol is not just an issue for cars... boat owners have reported extreme issues with molded-in-place gas tanks where the fiberglass resin mix wasn't just right, which then led to the resins softening and dissolving into the gas. The resin juices then proceeded to destroy the engines in the boats by coating / clogging the fuel system and the chambers with this juice. Folks were allegedly going up and down the coast looking for gas stations that could guarantee 0% ethanol gas or forced to undertake a $$$ diesel repower of their power boats.

It's not as if refineries are going to ship a different blend of gas to most ship docks, doesn't make sense, is a distribution nightmare. They're going to ship whatever they have.

And here's the rub: The ethanol will also result in worse gas mileage because the stuff does not have the same bang per cubic volume as gasoline (i.e. 66%). Thus, the higher the ethanol volume fraction, the lower your vehicle's range is going to be. It's why cars designed to run on E100 in Brazil and elsewhere feature bigger gas tanks than cars designed for use with gasoline, for example.

At the end of the day, the ethanol debate is one of the best examples of how lobbying results in extreme market distortions, i.e. the adoption of a fuel substitute at the behest of the corn farmers in the midwest and the large corporate interests (ADM, etc.) which profit from the processing and marketing of the stuff. Now that natural gas is too practically too cheap to meter, expect even more fuel conversion efforts of this sort.

Comment Nothing new here (Score 1) 232

Is it a good idea to have your offsite backups in place? Sure, but why wait for a predictable natural disaster as opposed to a man-made one? The whole point of a viable backup strategy is not to have a single point of failure, including a reliance on predictable events.

In an ideal world, I'd have several heavy-duty chain saws at the ready, dripping in anticipation of cutting down wayward trees. But this being the real world, I'll leave my big boy chaps, kevlar gloves, etc. in fantasy-land and hire a professional should a tree make a unexpected entry into our home.

In fact, we're pretty carefree here... spoiled by the reliability of the electrical grid, with the longest off-line period being 23 hours thanks to a neighbor cutting the roots on a street tree, allowing said tree to tumble into the street and taking out two electrical poles in the process. So, no gen set, for example. Living on the edge...

Comment Follow the money.... (Score 4, Interesting) 80

Even in the deepest, darkest days of the post 2000 internet bubble, one industry kept hiring the brightest and smartest DRM programmers they could find. And if you guessed/knew it was the porn industry, you are right. An acquaintance of mine went out to CA to enjoy the sunshine, the parties, etc.

The porn industry was years ahead of its allegedly less salacious competition (i.e. Hollywood studios) in terms of streaming content securely, etc. reflecting their profit motives perfectly - the internet remains the killer app for the purveyors of smut since it gives its users the false impression of pursuing their "hobby" in the privacy of their home. As a result, adult 'bookstores' are likely on the decline in all but the most rural areas thanks to high-speed internet becoming more and more ubiquitous.

But it seems that no DRM scheme has been unbreakable so far, so these sorts of draconian 'copyright' measures endorsed by smut kingpins and other content providers are simply another way to use the powers of the state to protect their economic interests. That the interests of the public may not be served by said legislation has been debated often, and usually in favor of reducing the length of copyrights to invigorate creative uses, discussion, etc. But, follow the money... and as long as content providers are sticking more cash into the popos of politicians than voters opposing such legislation, my guess is that politicians will parrot whatever soundbites they are told to repeat.

Comment It's like a religion (Score 4, Insightful) 668

.... there are risks associated with any medical procedure, including vaccinations. But vaccinations are among the safest things one can do for oneself and the community. The benefits far outweigh the risks, the science is clear on that. Most of the folk that oppose vaccinations do so out of unfounded fears, i.e. gut reactions, not rational reflection of the facts. Instead, they are swayed by the likes of Ms. McCarthy or Mr. Wakefield that there is some sort of giant medical conspiracy. It is precisely this sort of ignorance why more diseases like polio have not gone the way of smallpox, i.e. been eradicated in the wild. In the case of polio, it's thanks to nutty preachers in the affected remaining hotspots making similarly dreary claims re: the polio vaccine.

I attribute the willingness of parents to take a chance with herd immunity to the fact that they haven't themselves seen the effects of polio, whooping cough, etc. in the community around them. There is a reason that in years past people gladly lined up for polio vaccinations - they'd seen the impact, could better trade off the miniscule risk (especially with the post-Cutter-incident monitoring) with the benefits of not having dead, disfigured, or severely disabled children. Indeed, one of the biggest impacts of vaccination programs is the serious reduction in schools for the deaf, dumb, and blind.

Ironically, having rejected comparatively perfectly safe vaccination options, parents seem to have no issues with then putting all the interventionist methods to use to save their children if they do fall sick. I.e. take them to the hospital, operate, perform lots of heroic work to save the child... all of which would not have been necessary if they hadn't blindly followed quacks advice re: vaccinations. And that's what amazes me, the quacks of the world who promote anti-vaccination messages have yet to prove any causal link between MMR and/or thimerosal with autism, yet they stick to this piece of faith, not unlike the folk who will follow cult religions. It's pity for the kids, they have no one looking out for their interests.

Last but not least, what bothers me most about refusing vaccinations is that there will always be some members of the community that have to rely on herd immunity because their own immune systems are not fully functional, they are undergoing immuno-suppressing therapy, or they are allergic to some of the proteins inherent in the current manufacturing processes for most vaccines. Additionally, no vaccine is 100% effective - so depending on the ability of the virus or bacteria to spread through the community, a very high immunization rate is required to protect everyone in the herd, immunized or not.

I hope that some day the likes of Ms. McCarthy or Mr. Wakefield will own up to their hubris, character assassination, innuendo, etc. and apologize to the world not only for disrupting one of the most successful medical programs of our times, but also for killing, disfiguring, and traumatizing gaggles of children needlessly with their panic-mongering. This is not unlike shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre - especially in the case of Mr. Wakefield where key aspects of his 'research' were later found to be faked, massive conflicts of interest were not disclosed, and interpretations were drawn without the benefit of facts.

For anyone interested in the subject, I highly recommend the books written by Dr. Offit on the matter, especially "Autisms False Prophets", and "Deadly Choices". He details the characters of the anti-vaccination movements quite nicely and shows in reference after reference what the real impacts of vaccine refusal are.

Comment Based on what I have read about the guy... (Score 4, Insightful) 225

... and hey, it's nothing more than an online article, I say good riddance. Threatening folk repeatedly with bodily harm, impersonating them to credit card companies, etc. should be a fast-pass lane to being disbarred from operating a business and going to jail without passing go and without collecting $200.

What troubled me about Mr. Borkers story more than anything is how easily he circumvented the various red-flag tripwires that credit card companies allegedly employ. And the allegation that he successfully impersonated a customer withdrawing a claim against him shows not only chutzpah but a big security hole over at the credit card company.

Bottom line is that the internet has allowed all sorts of scams to go nationwide and unless one can interest the Feds (via publicity in this case), one is SOL. Thus, he may serve as a business blueprint for a lot more scammers going forward.


One Night Stands May Be Genetic 240

An anonymous reader writes "So, he or she has cheated on you for the umpteenth time and their only excuse is: 'I just can't help it.' According to researchers at Binghamton University, they may be right. The propensity for infidelity could very well be in their DNA. In a first of its kind study, a team of investigators led by Justin Garcia, a SUNY Doctoral Diversity Fellow in the laboratory of evolutionary anthropology and health at Binghamton University, State University of New York, has taken a broad look at sexual behavior, matching choices with genes and has come up with a new theory on what makes humans 'tick' when it comes to sexual activity. The biggest culprit seems to be the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism, or DRD4 gene. Already linked to sensation-seeking behavior such as alcohol use and gambling, DRD4 is known to influence the brain's chemistry and subsequently, an individual's behavior."

Comment The answer to your question may be OpenWRT (Score 1) 460

...runs on many cheap router platforms and allegedly is happy to do IPv6. The current Apple base stations also have two DNS entries set aside for IPv6 and another two DNS entries for IPv4 hosts. Another option is to repurpose an old laptop or mini to run any number of the open-source DNS servers out there and use that machine also to NAT, etc. Running your own DNS server has the additional benefit of speeding up lookups tremendously. But it is work and it consumes power... hence of marginal benefit unless you have a media server already running 24/7 and/or a craptastic provider like Comcast, whose DNS servers aren't all that reliable.

Comment Thank you for your thoughtful reply... (Score 1) 272

... but please allow me to respectfully disagree with some of your statements.

If my base station experience was so unique, why are there hundreds of e-mail messages in my mail file for Graphite Airport related issues alone? This month alone, over 450 visitors looked over the repair instructions for the graphite base station power supply. It's 2010, my friend and the graphite base station came out 10+ years ago.

I also qualified my statement re: Apple admitting issues with a getting a common manufacturing defect repaired to my experience alone... not the general customer experience. Since I have not owned an eMac/iMac/MacBook, I had no opportunity to experience the out-of-warranty repair programs you mentioned. Please do not generalize my statements out of context.

That Apple may have learned from prior issues is a good thing but I was not impressed with the Apple response at the time that the capacitor issue reared its head in the graphite ABS. IMO, the graphite airport base station was the tip of the spear of the capacitor plague problem. Based on the entries in the internet archive, Apple started publicizing out-of-warranty repair programs sometime around 2005, i.e. years after the graphite base station was released.

That you didn't hear one word about thermal issues is your experience. Perhaps it's because you wrote software and did not provide hardware support in the years after the product was released? Are there former colleagues that you might be able to ask who are in a better position to know what the in-field graphite base station hardware issues were over time?

I ask, because I heard about it hundreds of times. I had 3 out of 6 graphite ABS's I installed for friends and family break in a manner similar to mine. Not all of them in 13 months, like my first one... some took two years... I proactively upgraded / ventilated the remaining units but my guess is that they would have broken also. Why so many units in my part of the world failed and so little of yours will likely remain a mystery.

In a similar manner, I doubt that every iMac/eMac/etc. manufactured by Apple that you mentioned as covered by out of warranty repair programs has failed outright due to the capacitor problem. Likely, it's a question of usage, time, environmental conditions, and simple statistics. So while you may have repaired hundreds, even thousands of units, there may be some users out there today with functional eMacs that have not been affected by the problem.

Please also consider that the thermal issue was exacerbated by environmental conditions. A marginal design might work as long as the external air temperatures remain low. That is why I considered the lack of ventilation holes in the ABS case to be a design defect. If you look at at a Lucent unit from that era (i.e. when they got to wrap their own plastics around the same motherboard that Apple had sourced from them), it features lots of little slots for convective cooling.

Lastly, thanks for your help in bringing this amazing technology to the masses and cheers.

Comment It's because they didn't design it... (Score 1) 272

I didn't know Apple ever used a i86 in anything until they switched to Core2 about four years ago.

It's what happens when you buy a design instead of developing it yourself. My guess is that Apple lacked the internal expertise to design a WiFi router and card system in the time frame that they wanted to bring it to market. So, they looked around for companies willing to private-label their wares inside an Apple enclosure. IIRC, they had an exclusive on the manufacturing rights (i.e. Lucent couldn't sell or pimp it to others) for a year.

The early Apple PCMCIA Wifi cards for laptops and desktops also appear to have been Lucent based. The first generation of Apple Base Stations was interesting in that it consisted of a small motherboard with a modem daughterboard and a PCMCIA-slot into which the wireless transmitter card was inserted. Thus, some folk recycled these "silver" cards into their laptops after their base station died.

At the time, the Apple base station was by far and away the least expensive wireless base station on the market. Thus, I credit them with bringing Wifi to the masses and forcing other manufacturers to follow suit, price-wise. Subsequent generations of base stations switched to various flavors of RISC processors. See for a comprehensive list of Apple base station features, dissections, etc.

Comment And you are a Anonymous Coward (Score 1) 272

Apple posts their "recalls" all the time. This particular link can be found on, right now, under a column on the left called "Exchange and Repair Extension Programs":

But damn they sure do a good job of hiding those problems.

You, sir, are a moron.

Awww, what's next? Your Mama jokes?

That the page you reference may not have existed in the Year 2000 time frame never crossed your mind, did it? The internet archive only has it in existence going back to 2006. The hundreds of folk who wrote to thank me for pointing them to the unpublished knowledge-base article must have been morons too? Along with all the folk at Apple who had initially declined service for broken out-of-warranty base stations? That's quite an army of morons...

But it explains why you posted as an AC. Better luck next time.

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